Six months later, clues are scarce in the shooting death of Patrick Cotrona

APD: “We need the public’s help.”

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Six months since Patrick Cotrona’s fatal shooting stirred fears of violent crime and helped galvanize a community, police still do not know who killed him. They say public assistance is crucial in solving Cotrona’s murder and other crimes that could be connected.

Cotrona, a Georgia Tech graduate and video game programmer, was killed the night of May 25 as he walked home from an East Atlanta Village pub. His murder, along with other gun-related crimes earlier around the same time, including other homicides in southeast Atlanta, spurred a beefed-up police presence in Zone 6—which includes East Atlanta, Grant Park, Little Five Points, and other neighborhoods—that remains active.

Police are actively working the Cotrona case, and a $25,000 reward—consisting of CrimeStoppers and private funds—is still on the table. But no charges have been brought, and police say the search for suspects has been fruitless thus far.

“We need the public’s help,” said Atlanta police spokesman Greg Lyon.

The brazenness of Cotrona’s killing startled residents and city officials. The incident prompted Mayor Kasim Reed to outline a six-point plan for how APD would respond to violence in the area. In recent months, fifteen new officers have been assigned to Zone 6, bringing the total to more than 130 officers, according to sergeant Lyon. The mayor held packed public safety meetings in the summer in response to concern about what seemed to be a surge in violent crime. But despite the late-spring wave of high-profile crime, police data show gun-related incidents have not spiked in East Atlanta or the city at large this year over 2012.

On that Saturday night, Cotrona, thirty-three, was walking to his East Atlanta home with two friends when a man approached them with a gun about 10:50 p.m. near the intersection of Flat Shoals and May avenues.

According to police, the robber demanded money but shot Cotrona in the abdomen before he could hand over his wallet. One of Cotrona’s friends pepper-sprayed the gunman and was shot in the leg but survived. The third friend was unharmed.

The shooter fled without Cotrona’s wallet or any other valuables.

Police believe the shootings are connected to two robberies that happened about ten minutes earlier that night in Reynoldstown.

In the wake of the crimes, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner told the AJC some type of gang activity was suspected, but Lyon said he could not confirm that, either.

A police analysis supplied for this story shows that twenty-six crimes involving firearms had occurred this year on the East Atlanta beat, as of November 15. Tallies for the two previous years (thirty-three and thirty-two crimes, respectively) were higher.

Citywide, the 2,047 gun crimes recorded through mid-November were in line with tallies from 2011 and 2012.

In early June, more than 100 people attended a vigil for Cotrona near the intersection where he was shot. Afterwards, they lighted luminaries inscribed with messages to Cotrona and “EAV pride.”

Attempts to reach neighborhood leaders for comment were not successful.

Tips on the cases can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line (404-577-TIPS), online at crimestoppersatlanta.org, or by texting “CSA” and the tip to CRIMES (274637).

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